Pete Stark

Apparently, there has been only a single member of the United States Congress who was openly atheist during their tenure. That’s surprising given the demographics of the country.

I don’t know how anyone with experience with atheistic people can believe that they are, as a group, without moral center. You can argue that their disgust reactions don’t match those of religious people but unless you want to argue that morality reduces to disgust, you are flying in the face of copious evidence.

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James D. McCawley

English doesn’t always break down into well ordered rules, particularly noticeable in it’s profanity (pdf link). I laughed and then felt shame for my poor grasp of grammar.

Note that a world where social reputation carries consequences is a world where words can absolutely be an attack. To assert that words don’t matter is to acknowledge that your social capital is not vulnerable to your audience.

Plot Bunny Farm (1)

Among my bad habits, I like to devour blogs. The Plot Bunny Farm  took me a few hours and there’s a lot of quality stuff there, including but not limited to writing advice, occasionally creepy writing advice, feminism, a new fandom for me – RWBY, all around cool things, and thoughts on Grant/Sherman.

Today let’s highlight maps.

Do you honestly think the world has a preferred orientation? Reminds me of Egyptian maps that place Upper Egypt (Southern Egypt) on the top of the map and let the Nile flow down to the bottom.

All those ships on the ocean. Where are they right now? Once I wanted a career sailing the world until I talked to people who actually did and who made it sound more like being under house arrest than romantic. If any of my sailing knowledge remains relevant, I’d still be tempted to help Mediterranean yachts make it home once their wealthy owners were done sailing for the summer.

Joining Salar de Unuyi as aspirational travel location are the three lakes of Mount Kelimutu on the other side of the world.

Africa ought to get more love from the rest of the world. It’s a significant place. Also, in cultures that I know nothing about.

A new addition to the reading list is “How to Lie With Maps” by Mark Monmonier. The list gets longer and it does not give me peace.

I’d encourage you to explore more maps yourself. If I’m feeling it, I’ll probably post some more links out of plot bunny farm later.

Freelancing

The Economist just ran an article on the sharing economy model. This is where an individual can micro-contract to perform a set task on demand through a service that connects customers to workers. The flagship company popular in the news is Uber but the model covers a wide range of services including traditional freelancing and time banks. The focus of the article is on the changes that governments will have to make to regulate and support these new companies with their characteristic despair that any such changes will be made. It’s not for them to make value judgments on the model itself except to note that it will succeed or fall on its ability to make us of idle resources.

Rob Horning has an interesting response in which he critiques the sharing economy for extending the corrosive reach of capitalism into previously protected areas of life and noting that the destruction of the traditional company structure also removes many of the basic guarantees that people expect out of their work. Freelancing has always been fraught with uncertainty (unless you’re an outlier – see the critiques of online education) and it’s not clear that there’s any difference with sharing companies. They will help you find customers and maintain some notice of your availability but perhaps nothing beyond that minimal set.

The basic promises of flexible hours and having accountability connected directly to your customers rather than to a corporate hierarchy are both attractive but what about the loss of other structure? I think we’d see the disappearance of trade unions under the sharing model as the barrier to entry would drop. You might see the emergence of new trade guilds as there becomes value in sharing expertise amongst the workers in a professional model. For the other services companies supply for their employees (conflict resolution, legal aid, sometimes medical aid), these coordination burdens might fully devolve to the state or perhaps return to the model where community organizations such as fraternal orders and churches filled that role. A world where these services become the responsibility of the individual is a worst case scenario but I would be happy to see a world with more options along the lines of local community organizations offering mutual aid.